At WiseTech, we surround ourselves with incredibly smart people with diverse and eclectic experience, an abundance of talents and motivation fuelled by purpose. We embrace and respect our people for their individuality, creativity and innovation, and we encourage our people to bring their true self to work.
We recently spoke to Tomislav Bozic, a developer at WiseTech Global to find out about his career journey, his experiences working here, and what advice he has for autistic and neurodivergent individuals considering a career in technology.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
When I was about five or six years old, I liked to play on my uncle's Commodore VIC-20 computer, so my interest probably started around then. It’s no surprise that my favorite class in school was my computer class, and my favorite computer program was Turtle Graphics, where you typed in a bunch of commands to move a turtle on the screen to draw a picture. I didn't realize it at that time that this was actually computer programming.
But the turning point for me when I realized I’d like to make a career out of this was when I was 13. I had my own computer at home, and I taught myself the QuickBASIC programming language, and the book that I learned it from coincidentally, was called ‘Mastering QuickBASIC’. I recently bought a copy of that book for nostalgia reasons, having lost it years ago, to remind myself of how my career started.
How did you begin your career at WiseTech?
Our CEO, Richard White presented at the very first Big Day In at the University of Technology Sydney back in 2012 when I was a student there studying engineering. I thought it was the most amazing speech and I just knew I had to work for him. So, I dropped everything, put in an application, and four and a half months later I landed a job as an associate developer at WiseTech.
It was my cover letter that really helped me get noticed though, it was very honest and unique, and Richard obviously saw something innate in me. He actually had my cover letter framed and put it on display in the office, which was the biggest compliment to me. Richard sees value in things that other people don't, and I’m forever grateful that he saw the value in me back then.
How has your career evolved since you joined WiseTech?
When I joined, we didn't have a formal induction program or the opportunity to do rotations in different teams like we do now. But in 2015, I volunteered to be part of our defensive programming induction bootcamp, and that evolved into the more mature rotations program that we have today. This also saw me join the PAVE team (that’s the team that looks after our Productivity, Acceleration and Visualisation Engine) and I’ve been there ever since.
I’m also a mentor to intern students and new hires and this is probably one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I’m highly regarded by my team leader and my mentees for my mentoring skills, partially because I’m empathetic, but also because I can relate to people and the challenges that come with being new to a team.
Our new rotators make mistakes all the time, but I don't begrudge them for that. Everyone’s been recruited and hired because of their intelligence and aptitude, so we never put anyone down for their mistakes, and that's my approach to mentoring as well.
What’s your favorite thing about working at WiseTech?
If I had to name one thing, it would be my team. We're small, we're tight knit, and we help each other to achieve great outcomes. I am just as valuable a team member as anyone else. The irony of this pandemic is that while it has physically separated us as a team, it has brought us closer together than we've ever been before.
We were a much smaller company back when I first joined with around 300 people in total, and Richard used to sit amongst us in the open plan office and he really prided himself on that. You could literally approach the CEO and ask him a question about anything. So, our flat hierarchy and our mantra of ‘anyone can talk to anyone at any time for any reason’ really rang true and is something I really love about this company. Although we’ve grown significantly since then, it’s still true to this day.
As someone on the autism spectrum, what has your experience working at WiseTech Global been like?
What can I say, it's been nothing short of a life transforming experience. I've been here eight and a half years, and it's enabled me to live an independent life and to be a productive member of the community. What I really love about this place is that it looks for, hires and nurtures talent that other companies might pass up on, and I think this has made a major contribution towards its success. I also love WiseTech’s intentional culture, which sets it apart from most other companies.
Our move to a hybrid working model has made my life significantly easier and a lot more productive as well. I find it easier to work in a quieter environment that only home can provide, and I also prefer to communicate and ask questions via text-based platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Stack Overflow, as they allow me to communicate and formulate my questions and responses more precisely.
As an autistic person, I struggle with verbal communication even to this very day, so I much prefer this model of working. The pandemic has actually been a bit of a blessing for me. It's brought about a more enabling workplace, not just for myself, but for other colleagues, my autistic colleagues in WiseTech, and I’m sure in other companies as well.
How do you think a company can benefit from hiring people who are on the autism spectrum?
You'll find some of the most passionate problem solvers out there who are determined to get the job done in the best way possible, and some of the most unique thinking, insights and perspectives. You'll also find some of the most loyal employees, because for a lot autistic people, they’re happy to be finally employed. Their natural skills are valuable to the business and in turn the business values them.
You've probably heard the statistics that we have a higher unemployment rate than most of the general population. I'm 37 now and I didn’t have full time job until I was 28, and it clearly changed my life. Before joining WiseTech, I just saw myself as inherently unemployable and so for a number of years, I didn't even really try.
But going back to university, learning how to make friends and joining student societies really helped build my confidence and my self-worth, and this was the catalyst for me looking for work. In 2012 I made a concerted effort to actively look for full time work, and eventually, I got my break with WiseTech.
What advice would you give to someone on the autism spectrum considering a career in technology?
I'd say congratulations to you, you've chosen the right career path. Your distinct autistic traits are highly sought after in the IT sector, and it's highly probable that a large number of your colleagues that you'll be working with are also on the spectrum as well, so you'll have that fellowship and support right there.
You have to find that catalyst that will propel you forward and inspire you to go out there and find the work and sell yourself. I found my way by drawing attention to myself in my cover letter, but everyone’s path is different. You have to find a unique way to sell yourself because you're autistic and neurotypical ways might not work for you.
I also think it’s important to find your inherent value and to build your self-esteem, and socialising can play a really important role in that. I really like to be involved and to help my fellow autistic people who are also similarly unemployed or feeling unemployable. I run a social meetup group and I’m also the President of the Sydney Autism Community Lions Club, which is dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of people on the autism spectrum.